Myanmar Update 2021

The preliminary conference program is available by clicking the ‘Sessions’ tab on the top. The conference will be will be online with limited attendance on the ANU campus and registrations can be accessed here

Conference Program


Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar K4DM

Myanmar Update 2021: Living with the Pandemic and the Coup

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic changed things everywhere. It is still too early to say what the full effects of the pandemic will be on Myanmar. And to further exacerbate this, in February 2021, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s Armed forces staged a coup seizing power from the democratically elected and incumbent government, the National League for Democracy. What has followed has seen mass demonstrations on the streets, brutal crackdowns, economic downturn and the redrawing of many long-held boundaries, be it social or political. This year’s update brings together a diverse list of experts who address the many social issues that have emerged from both the pandemic and the coup and their long-term consequences for Myanmar.

About the Update Series

The Myanmar (Burma) Update is a major venue at which to present cutting-edge scholarship on political, social and economic affairs in Myanmar. Now in its third decade, it is one of only two longstanding, regularly held international conferences on the country, and is alone in routinely publishing papers presented at the conference. It is one of a range of Update conferences held at The Australian National University on countries across Asia and the Pacific. Details of previous Myanmar Updates and publications are available at the ANU Myanmar Research Centre website: For further information, please contact the conveners at

  • Dinith Adikari, PhD Candidate, School of Culture, History and Language, ANU College of Asia-Pacific
  • Justine Chambers, Visiting Fellow, School of Culture, History and Language, ANU College of Asia-Pacific
  • Nick Cheesman, Director, ANU Myanmar Research Centre, ANU
  • Michael Dunford, PhD Candidate, School of Culture, History and Language, ANU College of Asia-Pacific
  • Charlotte Galloway, Honorary Professor, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Jonathan Liljeblad, Senior Lecturer, ANU College of Law

The Myanmar Update 2021 is supported by the ANU College Of Asia and the Pacific and the International Development Research Centre, Canada.

Register now

Date & time

Thursday, July 15, 2021 to Saturday, July 17, 2021

Day 1 – Thursday 15 July 2021

12:30-16:30 AEST

Keynote Address

Welcome address by Dean of College of Asia-Pacific, Professor Helen Sullivan and Nick Cheesman, Director, ANU Myanmar Research Centre

Keynote address by Professor Yanghee Lee, Professor at Sungkyunkwan University and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar.

Panel 1: The Coup

  • ‘UN, Please Ignore Us’: Addressee-design in Myanmar’s ongoing anti-coup uprising- Elliott Prasse-Freeman, National University of Singapore.
  • The Contested State of Burma: Conflict, Coups, and the Federalism Promise- Nicola Williams, Australian National University.
  • New friends, old enemies: Politics of Ethnic Armed Corganisations after the Myanmar Coup- Salai Samuel Hmung, Australian National University.
  • Centering Heterogeneity in Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement- Michael Dunford, Australian National University.

Speaker address by Khin Zaw Win, Director of the Tampadipa Institute

Day 2 - Friday 16 July 2021

12:00-17:30 AEST

Speaker Address

Political Update by Morten Pedersen, Senior Lecturer at University of New South Wales Canberra.

Panel 2: Foreign Relations, Aid and the Coup

  • The nature, scope and limits of international responses to Myanmar’s coup - Nicholas Coppel, Monash University.
  • The Pendulum of Neutralism: Myanmar’s Shifting Approach to Non-Alignment from 2010-2020 - Hunter Marston, Australian National University and Andrea Passeri, University of Malaya.
  • Debt, Precarity and the Politicisation of State Aid: COVID-19 Impacts and Post – Coup Options- Gerard McCarthy, National University of Singapore, Anonymous Scholar, Andrea Smurra, University College London and Russel Toth, University of Sydney.

Panel 3: Politics, Elections and the Pandemic

  • The Myanmar 2020 Elections and the Conditions of the COVID-19 Pandemic - Michael Lidauer and Gilles Saphy
  • Vanishing Network: USDP’s Position in Myanmar’s Democratic Consolidation (2015 - 2020) - Constant Courtin, University of British Colombia.
  • Exploring Myanmar Prison Department’s Responses to Covid-19 and the Implications of the Coup - Anonymous and Tomas Martin, DIGNITY.

Speaker Address

Speaker Address by H.E Lian H. Sakhong, Minister of Federal Union Affairs, National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Day 3- Saturday 17 July 2021

12:00-17:30 AEST

Speaker Address

Economic Update by Htwe Htwe Thein, Curtin University and Vicky Bowman, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.

Panel 4: Socio-Economic Issues

  • The Myanmar Economy, COVID-19 and the current political context: issues and prospects for recovery - Linda Calabrese, Max Mendez-Parra and Laetitia Pettinotti, Overseas Development Initiative.
  • Socioeconomic Challenges of Local Fisherman, due to Pandemic; Mie Mie Kyaw, independent expert.
  • Human rights and access to worship places- JSeng Rose, independent expert.
  • How are fashion workers in Myanmar surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic? Initial findings of struggles and resilience - Sara Toedt, RMIT.

Panel 5: Poverty, Food Insecurity and Social Protection Under COVID-19 and the coup in Myanmar

  • Poverty, food insecurity, and social protection during COVID-19 and the coup in Myanmar: Combined evidence from household phone surveys and micro-simulations – Afke Jager, Innovations for Poverty Action-Myanmar.
  • How could COVID-19 affect maternal and child nutrition? An exploration of impact pathways in Yangon, Myanmar - Sophie Gaudet
  • Myanmar’s Microfinance Sector, Agriculture, under COVID 19 and the coup: Emerging Insights and New Challenges - Russel Toth, University of Sydney.

Speaker Address

Swe Win, Editor-in-Chief, Myanmar Now

Closing Remarks

Updated:  7 October 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Myanmar Research Centre/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team